3 Things You Can Do This Year Instead of Budgeting

At this point, we’re still fairly early on in the new year, which means you may still be motivated to uphold the financial resolutions you set for yourself. And one of those may be to finally stick to a budget.

But what if budgeting is something you truly can’t stand to do? If so, that’s understandable.

Budgeting doesn’t have to be painful. Numerous apps can make it a lot easier. But if you’re still not interested in budgeting, don’t force yourself to do it. Instead, do these things, which might benefit you financially just as well.

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1. Set up an automatic transfer to your emergency fund

The whole point of setting up and sticking to a budget is to get a good sense of where your money is going so you can work toward different goals. But you can achieve that same objective without a budget.

Instead of checking your spending regularly, you can set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to your emergency fund. That way, money will land in that account off the bat every month (or at the frequency you choose) before you get a chance to spend it.

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To put it another way, you could spend hours entering your purchases into a spreadsheet in the hopes of being able to move $100 into your savings at the end of the month. But if you simply move that $100 over at the start of the month and then work with the remaining funds you have, you’ll achieve the same goal — with a lot less hassle.

2. Sign up for your company’s 401(k)

Maybe one of your goals is to save for retirement. If you sign up for a 401(k) plan through your employer, you can potentially skip the whole budgeting process. That’s because 401(k) contributions are taken as payroll deductions.

So, let’s say you want to save $100 a month for retirement. With a 401(k), that $100 comes out of your pay before you even notice it’s gone. If you’re meeting that goal, you can tell yourself that budgeting isn’t necessary for you.

3. Practice mindful spending

Handing over money for things like rent and food isn’t something you should have to spend time contemplating. You need a roof over your head, and you need to eat.

But there are probably non-essential things you spend money on regularly. And that’s OK. But it’s also important to think carefully about those non-essential items and make sure they’re really adding value to your life. If not, that money could be going into savings instead.

For example, you might enjoy your monthly brunch with friends at a restaurant with a $40 pre-fixed menu. But are you enjoying that meal so much that it’s worth $40? If not, next month, suggest a potluck brunch at your apartment that costs each participant $15. That way, you’re $25 richer — without having to do things like track your grocery or gas receipts all week.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with budgeting. Quite the contrary — for many people, it’s what helps them stay on track financially. But if you don’t see it working for you, these moves could serve as a reasonable alternative.

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